Life at the end of the road

January 31, 2017

The ‘Des res’ for wiglets :-)

This ‘ole for the new wind turbine is really getting me perplexed, methinks I need to reduce its size to around 8 cubic meters so as I can get the batching truck safely up to the ‘end of the road’. Sorry, I’ll rephrase that, I need to make the ‘ole smaller so someone else can safely bring their truck up the road. We’ve had a fair old selection of trucks up here and even two articulated lorries but Eyre Plant’s Scania ‘batcher’ will have the heaviest load per axle I’m sure.

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And that’s not including the snow plough, Calor gas tanker, cattle float and septic tanker Smile  Just wish I could convince Certas Energy to deliver oil here Smile I bet Calum would be dead chuffed at the amount of tonnage that’s been up his road.

A new home for the girls

Anyways, having got the old oil tank into a suitable position in amongst the trees we set about reassembling it, beefing it up and making a new roof.

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It’s a cracking spot up there sheltered by the trees on three sides, facing the sun but with a small bank in front to give the door some degree of protection. Basically it’s an old 1200lt oil tank split down the middle and widened by 24”. It’s plenty big enough for a couple of full grown sows and we even had Bramble farrow in there once. Mind you, that wasn’t intentional and I wouldn’t recommend it.

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However it’ll be perfect for these two darlings, who, true to form came to check it out. Pigs are really intelligent and curious creatures and if you’re working in the same place long enough they’ll always come and check out what your doing. Probably looking for food or a wee belly scratch if the truth be known, well there was none of the former but they both got a good scratch and the keeled over like they do Smile 

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Rainbow and Proven wind turbine on 11m mast


More mixing

That was the weekend out of the way so on Monday morning I headed off early to the Sconser quarry for more 20mm concrete mix.

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A Macleod’s lovely old Daf was on the weighbridge and LAS Plant of Inverness were delivering a cheery picker to the distillery.

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It was a perfect day and I managed to get the 9:25 back to Raasay

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and was mixing by 10:25. I just can’t believe how easy it is doing this. I have mixed tons and tons of concrete over the years and have always been pure wrecked afterwards. Normally you are lifting from a pile of sand, aggregate  and cement. Having the aggregate pre mixed at waist height with the mixer at the same level turns backbreaking work into gentle exercise.  Even after taking a lunch break I’d mixed over tons in less than two hours without breaking a sweat.

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The hardest job being moving my mates pallet around the edge of the ‘ole Smile

That done it was time to put Robin to work again,

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but not before I’d fitted a tool box to the front rack. This ten year old rack doesn’t look like it’s ever carried anything! I kid you not, there’s not a mark on the paint work, consequently I wrapped pipe insulation around it before fastening it on with ‘tie wraps’. I cannot believe I just did that Sad smile

Then, with my nice shiny tool box full of wire cutters, crow bar, hammer and cordless drill we went to collect a hen house from next door.

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Hens like to ‘snuggle up’ for warmth and our current hen house is rather large for the five hens in it so we decided to retrieve one of the old ones. These houses have been designed and built by ‘Donald the Hen’ of Struan on Skye and are perfect for around a dozen hens. We’ll be getting eight more off him shortly so this will be nice and cosy for them. It will also keep them separate from the current ones for a while to prevent bullying.

Back to the quarry

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This time it was Fraser’s Eyre Plant Scania on the weigh bridge.


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Another couple of tons goes into the trailer and home for 17:15 Smile

That was it really, well apart from this

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the stills uncovered Smile


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This is all I’ve seen of them lately, so was good to see them ‘in the flesh’ so to speak.

January 20, 2017

Here comes the sun :-)

Friday the 20th of January and the days really are getting longer, in the ten days I’ve been working a noticeable extra hour and twelve minutes have been added to the hours of daylight. Admittedly there’s been one or two days that you wouldn’t believe it but not today.

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Nope, today was a ‘pure peach’. The last quarter of the setting moon disappearing behind Glamaig as the sun rose above Scalpay. Sure it’s not been all roses, we’ve had some proper January weather along the way too.

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The fish farmers at Sconser getting a bit of a battering here as we left Sconser at 9:25 last Wednesday. Dunno what’s going on round at Marine Harvest’s Moll fish farm just now but they’ve certainly ‘putting the hours in’ of late with all manner of boats large and small working around there until well after dark.

The snow and ice hasn’t been too much of an issue this shift with the resident gritter lorry  returning at last and a new contractor who takes over from Andrew Gillies. Andrew will be a ‘hard act to follow’, his sterling efforts over the past thirty years have ensured my wife and I have got into work on many a poor day. The flashing lights and yellow lorry being just about the only vehicle I ever meet on my 11 mile journey into work at 6:30. Can’t imagine I’ll be meeting Nairn in thirty years time as I’ll probably be in a wooden box but here’s wishing him good luck in the new job and looking forward to getting the ‘craic’ some frosty morn Smile

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The Black Cuilin’s looking decidedly un black

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the Storr and Ben Tianavaig on the same day.



The neat terraces of Inverarish village, Raasay’s capital ‘city’ built to accommodate iron ore miners a hundred years ago it’s not your regular west coast architecture. I guess it’s more akin to the villages around mines in the central belt than the crofting communities of the Highlands and Islands. Still, they are solidly built houses and a big step from the ‘black houses’ that would have been common at the time.


When the north wind doth blow

The snow came on the back of a good hash of north wind that was by no means ‘ferry stopping’ but it did provide the customers and their cars with an early morning wash.

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Annoying really because this issue was predicted and even catered for in the original harbour plans. The problem being the ground swell passing unrestricted through the small gap between the Arduish and Goat Island. The gap is only there above ‘half tide’ and once the tide gets below that level the gap closes and the swell diminishes, it is not ‘rocket science’. Trouble is the highest tides are always around the same time of day, morning and evening, again it’s not ‘rocket science’ this has been happening since time immemorial.

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Indeed, even the architects foresaw it, sadly the council in their infinite wisdom did not Sad smile

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Just like they don’t have the sense to grit the ferry slip!!! taken just before we all went to push the customers cars up the hill!!!

Trucks galore

I can’t say that we’ve been that busy on the ferry, indeed, were it not for the distillery traffic we’d have been pretty quiet but we’ve certainly had a good few commercials of late.

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Eyre Plant’s Scania ‘batcher’ heading for the for the distillery, hopefully Ross will be at Sonas shortly with a load for my new turbine base.


Another Eyre Plant Scania, this time with aggregate for the distillery, this one has already been to Sonas. Ally brought 16ton of the stuff up for the concrete slab at Sonas.


J & T Morrison’s MAN delivering building blocks, again to R&B Distillers project at the Borrowdale House

With the promise  of a good few full time and permanent jobs this is going to be a great ‘shot in the arm’ for Raasay.

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So we can all put the old still away now Smile Picture courtesy of Gairloch Heritage Museum which is most definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. You may even find some relics from Sonas there Smile

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The fisheries research vessel MRV Alba na Mara passes by Raasay House and Raasay’s only fishing boat the MV Lustre sits peacefully on her mooring at Clachan.

The new quad

Apart from that, well, not a lot really, I guess everyone is still recovering from New Year and awaiting the half term rush. The middle of February can be an awesome time up here, many is the holiday I’ve had on the West Coast during the English ‘half term’ and gone home with a sun tan!! OK, it was only once but it was on Skye in around 1984 Smile Me and a mate of mine were salvaging an ex MFV called Poseidon off Fladda Chuain at the time and we both went home with a tan. Trouble was, I was officially ‘on the sick’ so had to say I’d been under a sun lamp when I went back to work. I was ‘signed off’ cos of a problem with my leg so had to walk around with a nut and bolt in my shoe to remind me to limp Smile I kid you not!!!

Then of course there’s the new quad


a 2006 Honda TRX500 Foreman with only 1035 miles on the clock. Sure I could have got a much newer one for the same price but this one has only 400 hours on it, one careful owner and is like new. Not only that but it’s the earlier air cooled version and has no power steering, both of which add complication, weight and expense to a quad. Some 80% of all engine breakdowns are related to water cooling. Think about it, head gaskets, water pumps, radiators all things that fail with great regularity. Sure I’d never touch an air cooled car in the town, but an air cooled quad on the West Coast of Scotland, no contest.

Of course it was 400 miles away near Clitheroe in Lancashire but I have a pal who went to check it out and build a custom pallet. With a bit of luck it’ll be here next week ready for work and I’ll make supreme effort to look after it Smile

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